Drought likely if monsoon fails to pick up now

With the monsoon being delayed all over India, particularly in the north, the next couple of weeks should prove crucial for the economy. All fingers are crossed that the late July rains make up for the shortfall so far.

monsoon failsAccording to India Meteorological Department data, the cumulative seasonal rainfall for the country as a whole from 1 June to 9 July was 34 per cent below the long period average. If rainfall is below 10 per cent of the LPA, it constitutes a drought.

The IMD continues to be optimistic that the July rain is picking up. If July sees good rainfall across north India, the kharif crop will recover substantially; but if rainfall is seriously deficient for the second successive month, there will be a drought.

International weather experts seem more worried than the IMD. North India gets rain from deep depressions in the Bay of Bengal, and right now such a depression is drifting away from India towards China. If this continues, North India will not get the copious rain it badly needs.

Besides, El Nino - a climate phenomenon that leads to the warming of waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean - looks significant this year, and is historically associated with sub-normal monsoons for countries like India and Australia. (See: El Nino weather pattern developing slowly, but surely)

But a study conducted by the weather office over the period between 1880 and 2005 found that India had normal / excess rainfall roughly half the time an El Niņo event took place. So, fears over El Nino could be exaggerated.